Action research and translation studies - understanding change of practice through the lens of translation studies

Year: 2012

Author: Lund, Torbjorn, Furu, Eli Moksnes

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



This paper illuminate a site based professional learning community built on an action research program in Norway.  A special model , dialogue conferences,  was  developed to facilitate learning among professionals from different schools in a network. The purpose of the dialogue conference was to stimulate ideas and reflections on practice. We focus on teachers and principals reflections on their role as carriers of travelling practices. "Travelling practices" and "carriers" are concepts from organization theory (Charniawska-Joerges 1995,  Jorges 1995, Rovik 2009). In this, we  mainly focus on the relevance of translation theory, a Scandinavian-European contribution to organizational theory. The two concepts are  used to understand  how practices  may transform from one site to another and how different conditions let this happen or not(Schatzki 2002).


In dialogue conferences researchers  structure  communication in order to create spaces for reflection and innovation.  We work as co-researchers to facilitate  teacher`s participatory action research, based on teachers classroom practice. Qualitative methods are employed, including focus group interviews, observations and reflection notes during  the dialogue conferences. We also use examples from teacher`s practice in classroom, performed in the dialogue conferences as expressed change of practice.


We start with understanding  organizational translation of practices and ideas and  take this   further to the insights from translation studies to understand how ideas and practice travel  from one site to another. We are interested in how travelling ideas go from one site to another, focusing on the entire knowledge process, from the source units to targets units on the micro level.  Examples from ideas worked out in the dialogue conferences and the transfer to practice in classrooms will be discussed.  We are interested in the "carriers" of this translation process and will reflect upon the concept "translation competence" by using examples from our research to see if this concept may add new perspectives to professional learning and professional learning communities.


A translation  perspective  on knowledge transfer processes  has widened our understanding on how certain ideas travel transform from one classroom to another and how "carriers" may or may let this happen. It has also influences our understanding how important it is to create spaces for participants to express their ideas and experience as a part of the co-action research activities.